The End of Parenzana
Termination of operation
In the meantime, on 12 December 1934, the last accident happened on Parenzana, a seemingly spectacular one, but fortunately without casualties.
Next year, a new danger threatened Parenzana: a project to set up an oil refinery in the area between Žavalj and Cape Stramare along the same route. The decision on granting the concession for the construction of the new facility was made on 14 July 1935, and the Trieste-Poreč section was closed on 31 August of the same year. As early as March, an announcement was issued stating that the railway would be closed after the last train arrives in Trieste on 31 August 1935.
The day after the closing, a four-line road transport service started its operations, perfectly covering the area once serviced by Parenzana. However, these road transport lines did not meet the needs of the local population, nor were they sufficient for passenger and freight transport, especially in the hinterland.
After the Trieste-Poreč railway line was closed and the equipment from the stations and telephone connections quickly removed, a period of stagnation set in. The railway survived the First World War and then after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was in operation for a short time during the Italian rule, mostly for an ever decreasing number of passengers and less important freight and then finally after 33 years Parenzana finally gave in, surrendering to the pressure of ever increasing competition of faster and cheaper road transport. Despite operating for symbolic 33 years and connecting the symbolic 33 Istrian towns and villages with the rest of Europe, Parenzana was shortly put up for a public auction without mercy.
While the population lived in the hope that the railway would be put into operation again, the Government had already adopted a decision to sell all its movable and immovable property. On behalf of the State Property Administration, the Treasury Department's office in Trieste described in detail the material belonging to the railway, and based on this document, a list was drawn up of individual pieces of material divided into lots and places where they were stored or used at the time, along with general and special clauses and the conditions for selling the material in parts. The above procedure of describing and itemising took several years. On 10 July 1939, in all Italian municipalities, the Official Gazette of the Kingdom of Italy and the List of Legislative Notices of Pula and the Province of Trieste published a Notice of Public Auction Sale to be held on 10 August 1939 for seven auction lots of iron materials of equipment and rolling stock of the abolished railway. All in all, the entire moving property of Parenzana was auctioned for slightly less than four and a half million lire. The public auction notice surprised the employees of the Istrian province, whose offices were the seat of the Local Railway Company Trieste-Poreč, and they immediately formed a steering committee.
During the following months, negotiations were held between the Local Railway Company Trieste-Poreč, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Communications on the subject of early termination of the concession. The negotiations took longer than anticipated. During that time the auction continued. Upon the dissolution of the Government of the Province of Istria and the dispersion of its archive, the Local Railway Company Trieste-Poreč disappeared forever.
By selling everything that could be sold, wagons and locomotives ended up in the possession of other railway companies throughout Italy, while there is a special story about its rails. Although its credibility has never been established, the story says that the rails were loaded on a ship for Abyssinia and, by a strange turn of fate, instead of going to Africa, they ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea together with the ship. Luckily, the memory of Parenzana did not sink with them. Its strong viaducts, bridges, tunnels and stations that are still holding up, along with a large part of the route that winds through the hills of Istria, still witness the story of a small railway - the legendary Parenzana - which, despite all its weaknesses, and connecting (bridging) a multitude of diversities with its modest but vital force, has in a peculiar way nurtured the core of the multicultural values of the soil under its tracks.
By abolishing Parenzana, the route was neglected, as were other related activities. All this was further burdened with new social processes, the emergence of mass tourism on the coast and the migration of people to new jobs. Thus, the zone of influence around Parenzana was gradually abandoned, due to economic stagnation and decline, neglect and disappearance of cultural life as well as difficult communication of these areas with the rest of the region.
Many years have passed from the abolition of Parenzana, but a large number of people have been coming from far away to visit its long route, in search of a track that had contributed to the creation of spiritual and physical ties between many Istrian towns and villages. Parenzana built a network of interconnections as well as a connection between the first and the last station, the former in Trieste and latter in Poreč.
Despite the fact that people, time and nature have all contributed to erasing the traces of this small railway, some stations, facilities and track sections did not fall into oblivion thanks to the memories preserved in pictures and photographs. All the buildings along the route had been built with great expertise and have managed to survive for many years, and are likely to resist the time and far more ruinous power of human destruction for many years to come. During the operation of the Trieste-Poreč railway, few people cared about its facilities, as they were used to seeing and using them.